Sunday, January 21, 2018

The PRSL & Oysters - Part II

Following an extended period of prayer (with the needed assistance of reinforcements from the Gloucester and Camden county dioceses), the train has at long last been returned to normal and Eddie has been coaxed back into the cabs ready to depart for Maurice River and Port Norris off the Manumuskin Junction.

Passing over Evergreen Avenue leaving South Woodbury and the city fathers breathe a sigh of relief.

There the reefers, RPO, and Baggage car will be filled to the brim with oysters. Buckets of iced oysters will be loaded into the overflow capacity of the purloined B60.


It is now evening and the cars loaded with oysters have found a ride back on local WY27 returning from Millville. Various restaurants along the way are meeting the train to snatch some LCL Oyster loads distributed from out of the B60, whose smell is now much worse than the way we found it!

What have we here? Looks like some LCL product is being passed out the door on the other side of the baggage car. Where did that sheep come from? Quick get it and put it back! With the gates raised multiple felons have to be involved in this mini-heist.

Our trip trough North Woodbury is uneventful. How quickly this morning’s harrowing events are forgotten.

30th street at night: The brass are not happy at the odors permeating their baggage car but on the plus side there are no spirits rocking the floor boards this time.

Off to the time portal, Mississippi bound. As always we will let the destination date set itself randomly.

(And if that derailed tank car under the station explodes, Philadelphia will be no more.)

The southern New Jersey Oyster Industry: The Native Americans in the area used oysters for food, decorations and even money for trade. The European settlers did likewise. Commercial oystering began around 1700 with repopulating the beds in high growth areas to maintain the supply.

When the railroad arrived in 1876 business boomed. Within 10 years the town of Bivalve was shipping 10 cars of oysters per day. Whole new towns grew up to support the industry. Oysters became the #1 fishery product in the United States. In 1880 harvest production peaked at over 2.4 million bushels. Over 500 boats and 4,000 people were involved in the process. 

Both the CNJ and PRSL provided the rail transportation. The PRSL used R50 express reefers for fresh oysters and the B60 baggage cars, due to their large capacity interiors and wide doors, were used for canned oysters and ice packed shipments. During peak periods every kind of appropriate car available would be pressed into oyster service.

In 1957 the industry collapsed with a 90-95% mortality rate from MSX & Dermo diseases decimating the crops. Many of the supporting villages became ghost towns.

The Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines (PRSL): The Pennsy and the Reading had competed fiercely for dominance in southern NJ rail service but the depression had severely weakened both lines. The intrusion of the new-fangled automobile further decimated their passenger revenues. Southern New Jersey was in danger of losing all rail service so the state stepped in to force a shotgun merger in 1933. (The line maintained its identity until the formation of Conrail in 1976.) 

The PRSL had its own engines but borrowed heavily from both parents for motive power during rush seasons. Most of the parent’s small to medium steam power went to finish their days on PRSL rails.

The PRSL & Oysters - Part I

The Railwire forum has a traveling PRR B60 baggage car. At each stop a photo shoot and fictional story needed to be posted. Here is my portion of the story, very loosely based on reality. 

It was late when B60 #9368 had the misfortune to be spotted in the 30th street station. It had just arrived through the time portal from Detroit. It was quickly welcomed to early 1951 and the Philadelphia/South Jersey region. Due to a shortage of PRR R50s, the PRSL (Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines) management folks have been scrounging for capacity to serve the peak of the Oyster season here in late January. Word was that a B60 had headed in on a passenger train from Detroit and due to some finagling and swapping of favors, a switcher had been surreptitiously dispatched to snatch it from the 30th street yard in Philly. 

It was quickly attached to an evening commuter train returning Philly workers to their homes in the rapidly expanding suburbs of southern New Jersey. (The P70s have recently returned from refurbishing at the Broughton car shops (@cbroughton67) in Louisville, Kentucky.)

In the 1950s the end of steam was rapidly approaching and most PRSL parent's (Pennsylvania RR and the Reading Company) small to middle sized steam was ending their days on PRSL rails.

Meanwhile the diligent peons in the PRSL’s main Pavonia Yard in Camden have purloined 2 brand new REX reefers to add to the train. Although the oyster industry has shrunk to 40% of its peak they were still moving 1 million bushels in 1950. (In another 7 years the MSX blight would wipe out the industry leaving several south Jersey villages as ghost towns.) 

Passing over Timber Creek we slow for the stop at the new small brick station serving Westville. The much more impressive 2 story station was torn down to make room for the concrete overpass needed to feed the growing interstate road system (I295) going through town. (Westville was known as the “Gateway to South Jersey” since the roads webbed in all directions after passing over Timber Creek.)

We notice the passengers tumbling out, some shrieking, as they depart more quickly than usual from the rear passenger cars. 

The process is repeated at the shelter stop in North Woodbury and Eddie is complaining about being bothered by spirits (of the non-alcoholic variety) 

It is too much for everyone when we reach Woodbury. The station master, a devote man of Romanish faith dispatched his assistant to run across the street to St. Pat’s and return with Father O’Malley. Being a priest adequately schooled in exorcism, he quickly is attracted to the B60 mumbling about “legions” of foul spirits. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas Everyone!

First snowfall on the PRSL:

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.

He never wrote a book,
He never held an office,
He never went to college,
He never visited a big city,
He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born,
He did none of the things usually associated with greatness ,
He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty three, his friends ran away.
One of them denied him .
He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth

When he was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave,
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone.
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankind's progress.
All the armies that have ever marched,
All the navies that have ever been built and sailed,
All the parliaments that have ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned,   put together,   have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life!

Adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Catching Up #3 - Couldn't Resist

I am trying to shave my engine (112) and freight car (576) collections by about 50% but I saw this beauty on an eBay estate sale and could not resist.

MicroTrains Reading FT set

It also gave me an excuse to let the Reading take over the Camden roundhouse with an F9, RS3, FA1, and an I10 consol sharing the spotlight.

Other post-September activities included jury duty and preparing/submitting an entry into Model Railroad Hobbyist's TOMA  module contest. Silly me thought that since I built my layout in modules I should be able to bang out an entry in about 20 hours. Well way, way more than a hundred hours later after writing, re-writing, rewriting,... picture taking, re-picture taking, re-picture taking,.. and arguing with my Word Master seminary buddy (Niel Bech) the entry was submitted and exhaustion settled in.

Here's hoping the entry meets their expectations, Probably won't know until April. The modules focused on Woodbury NJ where the PRSL's 3 branches (Millville/Vineland, Salem, and Penns Grove/Deepwater) all coalesced into a flurry or rail activity. Following is a prototype photo and my feeble attempts to imitate it.

Woodbury Millville to Camden local passenger train No.760. January 1951, R.L. Long photo, W.J. Coxey collection

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Catching Up #2: Engine Maintenance

I have collected a large fleet (10) of Atlas Alco RS3s. I started with Pennsy units from the original Atlas release, and built from there because I needed multiple Reading units to faithfully reproduce their coal drag motive power on the PRSL. I also collected extras since that is the recommended chassis to do Shapeways' Baldwin AS-16s (the PRSL main motive power). I need 4 but Shapeways painting (and chassis shaving) is beyond my capabilities but somewhere down the road I may find someone willing to do the work in trade for some of my vast selection of excess freight cars and buildings.

Anyway besides the 3 differently numbered PRR RS3s I had a lot of multiple engine numbers. Removing the numbering with alcohol was easy. I renumbered one of the PRR units successfully and butchered one of the Reading renumberings. Fortunately one of my operating crew volunteered to do the rest.

I also replaced the PRR shell on an Atlas FA1 with a Reading shell I acquired giving me a pair. Removing the numbering on that unit was not as successful but I picked at the last digit enough that it could possibly be a 3 instead of a duplicate 5.

All the units except the ones waiting to be renumbered have been treated with Doc O'Brien's Grimy Black pastels to remove the sheen. (My weathering capabilities are severely limited by being partially color blind. Therefore I ignore most of the 10 pastel bottles and only use the ones with "black" or "rusty" on their label.) I also worked on all their trucks with a mixture of black, rusty brown and rusty red. I found that mixing the pastel powders with a little water creates a paint that sticks well to the outer truck frames.

This whole project started by removing the shells to lube the power mechanisms. The units were old and noisy (from the beginning). They are now all lubed (and still noisy). I also replaced all rapido couplers with MicroTrain pilot conversions.

I still have one RS3 that has defied my efforts to remove its shell (and yes I have the instruction sheet for all the good it does). I also have managed to accidentally drop and thereby disassemble two trucks and now I understand why the manufacturer suggests acquiring new ones instead of trying to put the gears on the original trucks back together.

Throw in some geeps and yes my motive power fleet now looks more realistic (read less shiny) and more functional.

And yes I just had to put a Reading FA1 temporarily at the head of WY840 returning empties from Deepwater.

An un-grimed GP38 between 2 "grimees"

Monday, December 18, 2017

It''s Has Been A While & Op Session #9

It's been awhile since the last post and I'll try to catch up with a couple of posts in a row.

First of all we had an operations session (#9) in September with my regular crew (pictures below) which was highlighted by me passing out while talking. I regained consciousness with 8 eyes staring at me and them trying to decide if they should call 911. My wife is a nurse so we went that route. Evidently my blood pressure was way down (falling as low as 60/40 during the next few days). The doctor has since removed the medication I had been taking (for years) for high blood pressure and that has solved the initial issues. Of course, now I am recording high blood pressure and getting mild headaches. So the medical folks have to decide which way they want to kill me as we go forward.

As I lay on the couch downstairs, I was pleased to hear all the laughing going on in the loft. The crew had a good time running trains. Of course when I returned to the layout the next day it was difficult to find any cars in the sidings that had matching waybills. I don't even know who to blame. I guess I will just give them all lots of demerits. 😈

Friday, September 15, 2017

CSX PRR Heritage ES44

I reserved this engine years ago and pretty much forgot about it until I got an email that it had been shipped to me. Pretty unit but the lettering is kinda small and gets hidden by the handrails. I wonder if Fox Valley will do a replacement shell to match the lettering on their NS PRR replacement shell? 😊

These things can pull! Lifted a 12' string of triple hoppers up a 2+% grade with 2 engines.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Operations Session Script 1

The yard tends to be the first area to bottleneck during a quarterly operations session and it usually takes the operators some time to come up to speed (i.e. remembering what they are supposed to be doing) so I figured I would jump start the process and script the first moves for this month’s session.

The spreadsheet’s summary looks like gobbledygook, so I’ve added pictures to illustrate the moves. The process takes 2 yard operating in concert to be efficient.

The first yard operator (Op1) positions  yard switcher (SW1) on the inbound/outbound yard lead (I/O) into the yard and then retrieves the Philadelphia Transfer Freight (loads and needed empties from Philly to Camden, NJ) from staging and crosses over from the second main to the first main.

The second yard operator (Op2) takes another yard switcher (SW2) and retrieves the cars going back to Philly from yard track 5 and pulls them out to yard lead 1.

Op1 drops the cabin and separates from the inbound train, proceeds over the crossover from mainline 1 (ML1) to mainline 2 (ML2), reverses direction and positions itself on ML2 just beyond its cabin (still on ML1).

Op2/SW2 has now shoved the Philly outbound cars to SW1 on the I/O lead, separates and backs away

Op1/SW1 pulls the outbound cars from the I/O lead across to ML2, reverses direction and pushes them to the Philly engine.

Op1/SW1 reverses and goes to ML1 to retrieve the inbound cars, couples, reverses past inbound yard lead switch. Reverses and shoves the cars to Op2/SW2 on the I/O lead.

Op1/SW1 goes back to ML1 to retrieve PRR cabin and places it on the end of the outbound Philly Transfer which then heads into staging.

Meanwhile Op2/SW2 takes the inbound cars and begins blocking them into locals
The 5th & 6th cars need to be blocked into the Deepwater local (WY841) on yard track 3.
Add a cabin and move the train to the I/O lead.

Op1/SW1 places the WY841 on ML2.
Engines are added, the train dispatched, and Red oak tower notified.

While Op2/SW2 blocks the other locals .

The last car is blocked into the Salem local (WY51).

Meanwhile Op1 has retrieved the Deepwater Coal drag from staging (Reading RR engines and caboose) and dispatched it past the Pavonia yard contacting Red Oak tower for handoff.

Op2/SW2 pulls the WY842 hopper empties from yard track 7 and moves them to the I/O lead preparing to turn the WY843/WY842 coal drag on the Deepwater end. Switching the loads for empties is a similar process to the Philly transfer operations.

Now the "only things left" to handle are the next 4 turns (Millville Sand Hog (WY33/34), Millville local (WY27/26), Salem local (WY51/50), and the Tank Sweeper (WY79/80). Listen to the dispatcher!. 😉